GUWAHATI, July 5: Despite tall claims by the present government of freeing the Xatra lands from encroachment, much remains to be accomplished on this front. Things have come to such a pass that the initial euphoria to carry out the move has presently died down.
Immediately after assuming office, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was quite vociferous on this issue. In fact, quite a number of surveys were carried out then and consequent raids also undertaken at certain locations of the Xatra lands across the State. However, the entire exercise lost its pace soon after.
What is more, even the proposed joint survey to ascertain the Xatra areas under illegal occupation has not materialized. The survey was to be carried out by representatives of the Asom Xatra Mahasabha and officials of the Revenue department. The decision on joint survey was taken in a meeting between former revenue minister Pallav Lochan Das and Sattra Mahasabha. Das subsequently directed the deputy commissioners to submit their reports ascertaining the claims and counter claims.
There are, of course allegations that people of doubtful citizenship have encroached upon Xatra lands. A debate on the exact Xatra land under encroachment has also surfaced. Though the Mahasabha claims that thousands of bighas of Xatra lands are under encroachment, the government survey report contradicts that stand as it cites just 176 bighas of Xatra land under illegal occupation.
The latest official report has the following details about the seven Xatras and the encroached areas: Shyamrai Bigroh Xatra in Barpeta district (121 bigha 15 lecha under illegal occupation); Sri Thakur Ata Xatra in Bongaigaon district (20 bigha); Sri Sri Auniati Xatra (Kaliapani branch) in Jorhat district (3 bigha 2 katha 10 lecha); Sri Sri Dakhinpat Xatra (Satai branch) of Jorhat district (15 bigha); Gormur Xatra (branch) in Jorhat district (1 bigha 16 lecha); Sri Sri Narasingha Xatra in Nagaon district (16 bigha 4 katha 17 lecha) and Ramrai Kuti Xatra of Dhubri (2 katha 7 lecha).
Against this backdrop, it remains to be seen as to when and how the State government would carry forward its much hyped pre-poll plank to its logical conclusions. The Sonowal Government has already completed two years, and sooner the steps are taken to free the Xatra lands from illegal occupation the better.